Israel has discovered a new tunnel under Gaza along with weapons and Hamas facilities, it said on Friday (December 8), evidence that Hamas conducts its military operations through an extensive network of tunnels beneath civilian infrastructure. The United States has designated Hamas a terrorist organization.
The one kilometer long tunnel leads from Gaza’s Al-Azhar University to a nearby school. The Israeli army did not provide video or photographic evidence of the tunnel, but released photos of weapons it said were found by Israeli soldiers at the university, including explosives and rocket parts.
The Israeli military said it also discovered a Hamas control room equipped with cameras, phones, walkie-talkies and weapons near a hospital in northern Gaza, as well as another tunnel entrance. A photo released by the military showed a cave entrance with a ladder extending downward, leading to an underground passage.
Israel said the findings showed Hamas had penetrated deep into civilian areas. This is the core reason why Israel has stepped up its attacks on the Gaza Strip and called for a mass evacuation of civilians.
United Nations Security Council
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that no place in Gaza is safe.
“What lies before the eyes of the people of Gaza is an abyss,” Guterres told the 15-member Security Council. “The international community must do everything possible to put an end to their ordeal.”
His comments came hours after the United Nations Security Council voted on a resolution to impose a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. The resolution, proposed by the United Arab Emirates, received 13 votes in support, with the United Kingdom abstaining and the United States voting veto.
Guterres took the rare step of writing to Security Council members on Wednesday, invoking Article 99 of the UN Charter, calling on members to take note of the crisis and urge them to take action.
“I urge the Security Council to spare no effort in promoting an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to protect civilians and urgently deliver life-saving aid,” he said.
Fighting intensifies in the south
Displaced Gazan Palestinians crowd into Rafah. Israeli messages circulated in Rafah, on the southern border with Egypt, urging Palestinians to flee to the area, saying it was safe. But the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry reported that at least 37 people were killed in Israeli airstrikes at night.
The Israeli army on Thursday accused militants of firing rockets from close to the humanitarian zone near Rafah.
The Israel Defense Forces said on Friday it had struck more than 450 targets in Gaza by land, sea and air in the past 24 hours, the most since the seven-day Israeli-Kazakhstan ceasefire broke down last week and above the daily numbers usually reported after a ceasefire breaks down. About twice as much.
Israeli forces reported more attacks Friday in Khan Younis, southern Gaza. Israeli Brigadier General Dan Goldfuss said in a video message released from the local area that Israeli forces were fighting house-by-house and “shaft-by-shaft,” a reference to Gaza’s tunnel shafts.
Gaza’s health ministry reported that 350 people were killed on Thursday, bringing the death toll in the two months since the war began to 17,487, with thousands more missing and believed to be buried under rubble. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, 70% of the dead were women and children.
According to the Israeli military, 94 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza since Israel began its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.
With most Palestinians in Gaza displaced and unable to access any aid, while hospitals are overcrowded and food is running out, the United Nations’ main agency on the ground says Gaza society is “on the verge of total collapse” and its ability to protect the local population is “undermining” rapidly reduced”.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Washington on Wednesday that Israel must also step up efforts to protect Gaza’s civilian population. “There does still remain a gap between the intent to protect civilians and the actual results we see on the ground,” he told a news conference.
However, a senior White House official on Wednesday still expressed support for Israel’s decision to launch military operations in densely populated southern Gaza.
“We believe there are still many legitimate military targets in the south, including, as Israel said, many, if not most, of the leaders of Hamas,” said White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told the Aspen Security Forum in Washington.
“They have every right to attack these targets,” he said. Feina called Israel’s publicly stated goal of ensuring that Hamas no longer rules Gaza “a very legitimate goal.”
Feiner also reiterated the White House’s position that calling for a comprehensive ceasefire would benefit Hamas, but said Washington continues to press Israel to allow more aid into Gaza.
(This article relied on reports from The Associated Press, AFP and Reuters)